If – and that’s a big “if” – today, Tuesday, Feb. 10, turns out to be the final snow day for Belmont public school students this school year, the district is scheduled to close shop “on schedule” on Tuesday, June 23, according to Belmont’s school superintendent.
After declaring five “snow” days due to the two weeks of record snow fall, the reason the schools will not be closing with the Fourth of July fireworks in the background is that the school district “pockets” five days into each school year’s calendar for school closures, said Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.
“The district works backwards from the pending final day to determine the actual final day of school,” said Phelan.
“Right now, we are not adding any days,” said Phelan.
The final day, two days into summer, is the latest Belmont schools will close in several years. The last day in 2014 was Friday, June 20.
While parents and students will not have to make changes to summer plans, the most immediate effect of five snow days in the past fortnight “disrupts the rhythm of teaching,” said Phelan.
“It’s problematic for teachers and students to be removed from a planned schedule,” said Phelan, noting that teachers map out an educational program that leads to the February break then “smoothly transitions into seven to eight weeks of teaching until the April recess.”
And if additional snow days are destined for Belmont, don’t expect to see either the state’s school commissioner or the district stray from the 180 days of school required under state law.
Mitchell Chester, the state’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, stated in a memo to school officials statewide that, “[s]chool districts may decide to cancel or shorten the April vacation period, convert scheduled professional development days into school days for students, hold school on Saturday, keep school open on Good Friday, or add days later in June beyond the originally scheduled last day of school.”
“We will have 180 days of school in Belmont,” said Phelan.